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November 11 & 18, 2007 Guest – Faith Club

(Part I) – The Limits of Tolerance
(Part II) – Friendship and Candor

Ranya Idliby (pictured left) grew up with a foot in the East--Dubai-- and a foot in the West--Mclean-- Virginia. She takes personal issue with Rudyard Kipling's The Ballad of East and West, for she feels that she is living proof that, though East is East and West is West, the twain shall and must meet. Her maiden name, Tabari, derives its roots from Tiberias, a Palestinian town by the Sea of Galilee. She likes to think that her interfaith experience harkens back to her family roots, and that as a Palestinian Muslim she embraces Jesus as a Palestinian Jew who walked on water by her ancestral home, near the Sea of Galilee. At Georgetown University, where she was introduced, to the art of pulling all-nighters, NoDoz, Bazooka gum, and dorm keg parties, she graduated from the School of Foreign Service. When love and marriage found her in New York City, she decided to shelf her thesis on Iraq, for Saddam was no match for the delighted squeals of her daughter's first taste of applesauce. Today, she continues to celebrate the joys of motherhood and family life with her husband and two children and feels blessed that the Faith Club has allowed her to become a student of life.

Suzanne Oliver (pictured center) always hoped to write a book, but never dreamed that it would be about religion. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1987 with a degree in English Literature then moved to New York City and began a career in financial journalism. After working at Financial World magazine, Forbes magazine (where she became a senior editor) and (where she was managing editor), she could write confidently about mutual funds, after-tax returns and asset allocation. But concepts like the atonement, salvation, jihad, Zionism and religious equality just weren’t on her mind until she met Ranya Idliby at their daughters’ kindergarten school bus stop in September of 2001. Oliver thinks of herself as the American “Everyman” in The Faith Club. She grew up in the suburban Midwest where she spent twelve years in Catholic schools and made her first communion at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Kansas City, Missouri. In New York, she and her husband converted to the Episcopal Church and have been active on many committees at their parish. Today Oliver lives with her husband and three children in New York City and Jaffrey Center, New Hampshire.

Priscilla Warner (pictured right) grew up in Rhode Island, the state founded by Roger Williams, a champion of religious freedom. Her parents sent her to a Hebrew Day school, where she studied Torah, Jewish history and Hebrew. Then they enrolled her in a Quaker school, where she attended silent meetings, sang hymns in chapel, and songs to baby Jesus every year at Christmas time. Priscilla spent many hours fishing with her father in the waters off Rhode Island, near tiny towns called Galilee and Jerusalem, giving her time to think, worry and wonder about all of the weighty questions she later posed to Ranya and Suzanne in her Faith Club. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where she spent most of her days afraid of the big city and holed up in an art studio, Priscilla became an advertising art director, shooting ads for everything from English muffins to diamond earrings. She fell in love with her husband in Boston and then relocated with him and fell in love with New York City. Inspired by her two sons, she began writing and illustrating children’s books. After completing two dozen picture books, two novels and two screenplays, Priscilla received a telephone call, met up with Ranya and Suzanne, and, at the age of 53, is proud to be having her first book published.

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